Argument Against Physician – Assisted Suicide

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Topic: Sociology
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All physicians swear by the Hippocratic oath before they start practicing medicine. The oath includes a strong admonition against the issuing of harmful and in fact deadly drugs to a patient. When it was being crafted, it did not consider that a physician would want to do anything other than help those who are sick get better.

Although a lot has changed since then and various parts of it have changed, this part still remains controversial. One who practices medicine should be bound by the ethic of wanting to help other who are not well get better through whichever means and not help them kill themselves by providing the means necessary for this. It is against the ethics that govern the medical fraternity.

For any person who believes and declares that there is a supreme being governing and controlling the world and what happens, it means one is trying to play this superior being. God is the superior being who gives and takes away life. Anyone who tries to help another end their life does wrong in trying to determine who lives and who dies.

Since they cannot give life then they should not take it. In the long run, one has to realize that regardless of what name is given to this action it is still killing which is actually against both the judicial and moral laws. It is wrong to assume the authority of determining who deserves to die and who deserves to continue suffering from a disease.

The argument being propounded for its presence and practice is that it is used to help those who are terminally ill. The problem comes in when one tries to determine who is terminally ill.

Some people can argue that a depressed person is terminally ill while others present a person suffering from cancer or AIDS as being terminally ill. With medicine and psychosocial assistance, these people can end up living a full life.

If they ask the doctor to help them commit suicide then the doctor is actually cheating them out of life that they could have led. The person may also not want to die but is just in confused state of mind yet once the deed has been done there is no turning back.

The change from voluntary to involuntary assisted suicide will be very subtle but inevitable. To begin with it will be done only for those who want it done and do so out of their own free will. Along the way it will be an agreement between the person and those around him or her.

The family members and friends may argue out with the patient and show them the logic for committing suicide. The physician may also manage to convince the patient that it would be for the best considering the economic and psychological state of those related to the person. The patient may then make a decision of having their lives ended yet it is not out of their free will but by the pressure put on them by those around them.

Since physicians are not psychiatrics as well, they cannot be able to gauge whether one is mentally and in fact psychologically stable enough to be able to make such a decision.

One may wish to die because of a psychological disorder and if the physicians allowed and in fact assisted in the death of a mentally unstable person then that would be wrong.

It is true that at one point in life everyone is faced with a difficult situation that they would rather not face and thus would prefer death at that point yet once that situation is solved that person moves on with life. If a physician at that time assisted the person in committing suicide, then it would have ended the life of a person who did not actually want it to end.

There is also the agreement of the possibility of a miracle happening. Since research is still ongoing in the world of medicine, there might be the discovery of a new medicine. If the patient is already dead there is no way they can benefit from the advancements made.

Also there is the possibility of a misdiagnosis whereby one is diagnosed with a chronic illness whereas they actually do not have it. If the person is assisted in committing suicide, then that person has been done a disservice. That person has been robbed of years of productivity and of having time to do much better as a healthy person.

There is also the possibility of failure whereby the method used does not work and the individual does not die. Upon survival, the person may live with a lot of guilt knowing that they were supposed to be dead yet they survived. If the person is suffering from terminal illness and the reason for committing suicide was to reduce the burden they were putting on their significant others, than they feel the weight of their survival very heavily.

They suffer greatly from the guilt of knowing that the one thing that could have saved their loved ones form pain has failed. Also in the process of failing the method used may end up causing more harm and hence add unto the medical and economic problems that the patient is already facing.

The trust that exists between the physician and the patient will diminish because the role of the physician changes. The traditional and conventional role of a physician is to heal but once the physician assisted suicide is legalized, then the role will include that of a “killer”.

These two roles are conflicting because one involves saving a life while the other involves ending a life. Some physicians are not for the legalization as the practice goes against the value they hold dear to them. If it is legalized, even those who are against the practice may be forced by law to perform it thus affecting them psychologically.

There is the question of who will be regulating death once it is legalized. Will there be any law that will regulate how, when and why it is performed? Will it be done indiscriminately or will there be some considerations put in place?

There is a possibility of it accruing especially to those who cannot be able to fight for their rights. Those who are unable to articulate their interests will be the majority of those who undergo the process.

These may possibly include those who are disabled, demented, the old and those who are very poor to a point of burdening the state and families with their illness. There may not be any clear cut law that will ensure that death to these people does not occur under duress.

References

Lynn Joanne Handbook for mortals. Guidance for people facing serious illness Oxford University Press U.S.A 2001

Cauthen K. Physician assisted suicide and euthanasia.

Newman E. Making the final choice: should physician assisted suicide be legalized? 1999.

Cohen J.S., Finn SLD, Boyko E.J, Jensen A.R., and Wood R.W. Attitudes toward assisted suicide and euthanasia among physicians. The New England journal of medicine. Washington 1994

Wise to social issues digest physician assisted suicide should not be legal the gale group Inc. 2007

Keown J. Euthanasia, ethics and public policy: an argument against legalization Cambridge University Press 220-256. 2002

Salem T. Physician assisted suicide. The Hastings Center Report Vol. 29 1999